Bangladesh, Myanmar Officials Visit Rohingya Trapped at Border

Bangladesh, Myanmar Officials Visit Rohingya Trapped at BorderBangladesh, Myanmar Officials Visit Rohingya Trapped at Border

Myanmar and Bangladeshi representatives held talks about 5,300 Rohingya Muslims trapped on a strip of unclaimed land between their two countries and visited the area on Tuesday, officials and Rohingya refugees told Reuters.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State and crossed into Bangladesh since August, when attacks on security posts by insurgents triggered a military crackdown that the United Nations has said amounts to ethnic cleansing, with reports of arson attacks, murder and rape.

A leader of Rohingya people living in the buffer zone, Dil Mohammed, told Reuters that during the visit the Rohingya reiterated their demands, including for UN peacekeeping forces to be stationed in Rakhine, and for aid agencies and media to have free access to the state.

Bangladeshis urged the Rohingya to return to Myanmar.

“We have asked them (Myanmar authorities) to ensure their safety and security and only after that Bangladesh is ready to coordinate them,” said Bangladeshi Relief and Refugee Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam.

“We visited the Rohingya with the Myanmar delegation and requested them to go back to their homes. They said ... they are willing to return to their land, but for that they need to ensure safety and security,” said Kalam.

Deputy Director Kyaw Swar Tun from Rakhine State’s administration confirmed that the meeting had taken place but did not elaborate.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR, which was not involved in the talks, has expressed concern the Rohingya may be forced back to Myanmar without due consideration for their safety.

A UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, said there was no clarity as to what the people living in the unclaimed land wanted to do.

“This is no safe place to be—so we would like to see clarity about the wishes of the group. Some clearly have indicated that they would want to seek safety in Bangladesh,” said Mahecic.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints